The Poisonous Tree and the Minneapolis Criminal Defense Lawyer

Illegally obtained evidence cannot be used against a defendant, so having this evidence excluded from your trial is one of the most important reasons to have a Minneapolis criminal defense lawyer handle your DUI case.

The “fruit of the poisonous tree” is a term used for any wrongfully obtained evidence. If an officer stops a driver for no apparent cause, if a confession or statement is coerced, if a search is done without cause, those are examples of the “poisonous tree,” they are violations of your Constitutional rights. The exclusionary laws provide that anything gathered from you illegally, the “fruit of the poisonous tree,” cannot be used as evidence against you.

Here’s an example. An officer sees a driver turn into an empty parking lot, sit there a while, turn around, then exit back onto the road. All perfectly legal. But the officer has a hunch and follows the driver. The officer makes a traffic stop and approaches the car. The driver rolls down his window and the officer smells alcohol. The driver is asked to step out of the car and the officer sees an open bottle of Jack Daniels halfway under the seat. The driver agrees to a sobriety test and fails it. The driver is arrested. Case closed? Plead guilty and hope for the best? No, not at all.

Your attorney will spot what was wrong. There was no probable cause to stop the driver in the first place, so the evidence gathered from that poisonous tree traffic stop–the smell of liquor, the open bottle, the sobriety test–is the fruit of that tree. Your attorney will work to get that evidence excluded from your case in pre-trial motions. It may be possible to get the case dismissed altogether.

There are complex rules with exclusion defenses, and many exceptions. But it is important to speak with an experienced defense attorney to protect your rights if you are charged with a crime. If you are facing a DUI trial, don’t hesitate to contact us to know your rights.